Crowdsourcing is a buzzword for community engagement and a skilled facilitator can unleash the potential of the crowd through a carefully constructed facilitation process.
When convening a group, two of the primary tasks of a facilitator are to clearly articulate the label that is applied to the group and to create an appropriate social contract between group members.
A community engagement process such as developing a coalition or an advisory group typically has the dual purposes of achieving a specific program outcome (such as advocating for funding or policy change) and attempts to build social networks between participants.
the overriding theme of facilitating community engagement is the paradoxical challenge of giving away control and power in order to accrue back trust, collaboration and process ownership. Facilitating community empowerment requires not only an understanding of group process but, in the words of a mentor of mine, “group process squared.” Community engagement takes basic facilitation skills and requires them to be lengthened, deepened and expanded by a social theory multiplier
There is a myth perpetuated that “collaboration is an unnatural act” but thinking about the models and process of collaboration is, at its core, systems thinking. If we are intentional about imagining what collaboration could look like, it can serve as a frame for a strategic conversation about the role collaboration plays in strengthening the capacity of stakeholders as they seek to expand, grow and achieve a common mission.